The Obama Administration’s Indifference to Genocide in Syria

Dec. 18 2015

Samantha Power, who has served in the Obama administration in various roles since its inception, and is now the ambassador to the UN, made her name by calling on governments, and the American government in particular, to intervene actively to stop genocides from taking place abroad. Yet so far, the administration has done nothing to prevent genocide in Syria. Michael Totten writes:

We’ve already received a few early warnings that Assad might be inclined toward genocidal behavior. The U.S. government estimates that the regime killed 1,429 people with chemical weapons in Ghouta outside Damascus on August 21, 2013, and a few dozen more in Aleppo earlier that year. . . .

Other warnings of potentially genocidal behavior have been ongoing. The government and its local allies—Revolutionary Guard Corps from Iran and Hizballah from Lebanon—have been plausibly accused of ethnically cleansing Sunni Arabs around the core cities of Damascus, Homs, and Latakia.

There have been plenty of warnings, one after another. . . . Ethnic cleansing, though, isn’t the same thing as genocide. Theoretically, an area could be ethnically cleansed without a single fatality. . . . In practice, [however], modern armies that commit ethnic cleansing usually commit genocide. At the very least, it’s a warning that genocide may be coming. Whether or not Assad has crossed the line yet is debatable. . . .

But there’s another army doing grisly work in Syria that has clearly crossed the line and is unambiguously guilty of genocide. No ideology in the world right now is more inherently genocidal than that of Islamic State.

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Read more at Tower

More about: Barack Obama, Bashar al-Assad, Genocide, ISIS, Samantha Power, Syrian civil war

 

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas